Martín Ocelotl

Martín Ocelotl (1496 – 1537?) was an Aztec indigenous priest (shaman) who was put on trial during New Spain’s Inquisition. He was ultimately banished to Spain.


Early lifeEdit

Ocelotl was born into a powerful family from the town of Chinanta (Chinantl) located in Puebla, Mexico.[1] His last name Ocelotl, means jaguar in Nahuatl.[citation needed] His father was a successful merchant while his mother was a well known and effective priestess. It is also believed that because he came from a powerful family, he was considered to be a religious prodigy at young age.


After the downfall of the Aztec Empire, Ocelotl took up residence in the nearby and former alliance state of Tetzcoco (Texcoco). It was there that Martín was able to continue his practice of being a successful shaman in the town. He also tried to establish a religious school in which many of the indigenous could be able to continue out their daily religious rituals. However, because the conquest had occurred many indigenous started to convert to Christianity in order to avoid the Inquisition.

At the age of twenty-nine in 1525, Ocelotl converted to the Roman Catholic faith and was baptized. He was given the Spanish name Martín. Although Martín was now baptized, he continued to practice the old ways.[1] Rumors about Ocelotl's power spread and many of the priests feared his influence over the converted indigenous community. He was also very wealthy and was able to share with many members within his area. Eventually, he would be accused of using witchcraft and practicing idolatry.

Trial and banishmentEdit

In the Fall of 1536, he was placed on trial before the Inquisition. According to several witnesses, they were able to recall how Martín Ocelotl used his power and was able to predict when rain was going to occur. Another witness brought up the fact he was the child of powerful sorcerers and claimed to be a more powerful witch. He was also accused of transforming into a tiger and a cat. Although there was plenty of evidence to find Martín Ocelotl guilty, he claimed that he was innocent because he believed that he had done nothing wrong.

His case was eventually given to the Bishop Juan de Zumárraga of New Spain (Mexico) who made the final decision on what would happen to Martín Ocelotl. On February 10, 1537, Martín Ocelotl was publicly humiliated in front of everyone and was accused of using witchcraft.[1] Martín Ocelotl was also banished from his home and forced to live life imprisoned in Seville, Habsburg Spain under the watchful eye of the Spanish Inquisition.

Unfortunately, according to records the ship that carried Martín Ocelotl to Spain disappears. No one knows what happened to him after his departure.


  1. ^ a b c J. Jorge Klor de Alva, Martín Ocelotl, 1981


  • J. Jorge Klor de Alva. "Martín Ocelotl: Clandestine Cult Leader." Edited by David G. Sweet and Gary B. Nash. Struggle & Survival in Colonial America. Los Angeles:University of California Press. 1981.
  • Patricia Lopes Don. "Franciscan, Indian Sorceres, and the Inquisition in New Spain, 1536–1543." Journal of World History. Vol. 17 Issue 1(March 2006).